Read: Haggai 1:1 – 2:23
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’” Haggai 1:2
God had given His people instructions to rebuild His temple and was growing weary of waiting for them to get started. It’s not that they were living in outright rebellion. They weren’t running around worshiping idols or breaking all of the other commandments. They were just, well, busy.
They were eating, drinking, working – you know, the everyday things that fill up our days and cause us to fall in bed at the end of the day wondering if we’ve accomplished anything. In the meantime, while they were taking care of the business of their own lives, making sure their own homes were well taken care of, God’s house lay in ruin – desolate and neglected.
Full disclosure here – I am so convicted by this passage. I’m a wife, a mom of two and I work part-time. Nothing out of the ordinary – lots of people have a lot more on their plate than I do – but I think the lesson in these chapters of Haggai is the same for all of us no matter our season of life or how big/full our plate is.
I’ll just put it out there. By the way I spend my time, it’s clear that I’ve made the decision that, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house” (verse 2). Now obviously God isn’t asking me today to build Him a stick & brick house. The house that He’s asking me to build (and tend) is my relationship with Him. My spiritual house.
“But I have 3 loads of laundry to put away”, I whine as I congratulate myself for at least having folded the three loads of laundry. The bathrooms need to be cleaned (AGAIN!), the dishwasher needs to be emptied, lunches need to be made, I have to get to the grocery store, homework needs to get done and for goodness sake am I the only one in the house that knows where the trash can is??
My day (probably just like your day) from beginning to end is full of busy stuff – good stuff – but lots and lots of stuff. The tyranny of the urgent (great book by Bill Hybels) runs roughshod over every intention I have of taking time to sit with God, get into His word, listen to what He’s saying to me. In this passage, God is very clear about what happens when I neglect my spiritual house. Verses 10 and 11 say, “Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
Now I’m not saying that God withdraws every blessing or protection when we aren’t in perfect communion with Him. But when I’m not “rebuilding” or “tending” my spiritual house, I can’t expect that house to look or feel very good. I might even feel a bit like a stranger when I wander in. I wonder if that’s what the Israelites felt like. But did you notice what happens when Haggai brings the word of the Lord to the people? They “obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai.”
And then listen to this – it’s really cool… “13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: ‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord.14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.” Did you catch that? Not only did the Lord reassure the people that He’s with them, but He also stirred up their spirits! I know, right? That is so cool.
I love that God doesn’t just say “Get your act together people!” and then sit back and wait for us to move. We do have to take the first step – the step of obedience – but then He comes in like the loving, compassionate Father He is and He reassures us of His presence and stirs our spirits up with hope and joy to help us on our way.
It’s easy to let someone else in your life do the spiritual heavy-lifting, especially when you’re married to the pastor (who, me?), but neglecting your own spiritual house leads to a desolate place that is no fun at all. It’s time to start rebuilding!
Heavenly Father, I ask you to forgive me for being consumed by the busyness of my life while my spiritual house lay in ruin. Thank you for the reassurance that You are with me and I wait expectantly for You to stir up my spirit! I am Yours. In Jesus’ name, amen.